Florida Gulf Coast 71, Michigan 62
FORT MYERS – The Florida Gulf Coast women’s basketball team moves past Michigan 71-62 in the WNIT semifinals in front of a program record 4,633 fans at Alico Arena.
FGCU will face South Dakota in the WNIT championship game, which is slated for Saturday, April 2 at 3 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. The game will be played at the DakotaDome in front of a projected sold-out crowd of more than 7,000 Coyote fans.
Florida Gulf Coast hit 5 of 6 shots from the field in the final minutes and outscored Michigan 12-2 down the stretch after the Wolverines had taken a brief 60-59 lead with 2:47 left in the game.
The Eagles connected on 11 three-pointers and forced 14 Michigan turnovers. The Wolverines struggled from behind the arc going 4 of 17, but outrebounded FGCU, 45-25.
FGCU’s Stephanie Haas led all scorers with 20 points and teammate Kaneisha Atwater finished with 18 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Whitney Knight netted 17 points and dished out four assists.
Madison Ristovski paced Michigan with 19 points and six rebounds. Katelynn Flaherty struggled from the field hitting 5 of 15 shots to finish with 13 points on the night.
Tonight’s semifinal win over Michigan gives FGCU its 33rd victory of the season to set a new Division I program record for wins and extends the Eagles’ second-straight 30-win season.
FGCU is now 8-5 all-time in WNIT games with previous wins over Drexel, GW and USF and now Bethune-Cookman, Wake Forest, Tulane, Hofstra and Michigan. The Eagles will be making their first-ever appearance in the WNIT championship game.
For the second straight year, the Wolverines have been knocked out of the tournament in the semifinals. Last year, Michigan lost to eventual champions UCLA, 69-65, in Ann Arbor.
Michigan (21-13) at Florida Gulf Coast (32-5) – One of the charms of the Postseason WNIT is how many matchups are first-time meetings for the teams, and this game is another one. The winner will play at South Dakota on Saturday, April 2 at 3 p.m. ET for the WNIT championship, with the game televised by CBS Sports Network.
Michigan has held tough in comparison to other teams in the Big Ten, reaching postseason play for the seventh straight season, and this game marks the second consecutive year Michigan has reached the WNIT semifinals. The future is looking bright as well, with sophomore Katelynn Flaherty (22.4 points per game) and freshman Hallie Thome (14.6 ppg) leading the way offensively. The Wolverines are very potent from the 3-point line, sitting in the top five nationally at 40.3 percent.
Having played its first four games of the WNIT at home, Michigan has been able to stay rested and recover more quickly from the demands of the schedule. The last game, a 77-76 victory against Temple, was secured after Thome hit a shot with 8 seconds to go, after the Wolverines had five other looks at the basket in the same possession.
Florida Gulf Coast has carefully navigated the space between frustration about missing the NCAA Tournament, while staying focused and determined about the challenges of the WNIT. Befitting their status as one of the stronger mid-major teams in the country, the Eagles are holding teams to less than 50 points per game, while ranking third in the country in made 3-pointers.
This is the sixth time Florida Gulf Coast has played in the Postseason WNIT; four times, the Eagles were eliminated after the second round. Kaneisha Atwater leads the team in scoring with 14.2 points per game, and she also reels in six rebounds per contest.
“It’s very exciting,” FGCU senior center Whitney Knight said. “For us not to go to the NCAA Tournament, this opportunity is great for us. It’s exciting to go to the Final Four and really focus on these games and play with a chip on our shoulder, because we felt we should be in the NCAA Tournament.”
South Dakota 88, Oregon 54
VERMILLION, SD – Backed by red-hot shooting from every spot on the floor, South Dakota sprinted past Oregon on Wednesday night to win their semifinal in the 2016 Postseason WNIT.
The Coyotes (31-6) will host the WNIT championship game against either Michigan or Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday, April 2 – tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET, with the game being televised by CBS Sports Network. This is the third time in five years South Dakota has been in the WNIT, and the first year ever it advanced past the second round.
South Dakota was a remarkable 15-for-21 from the 3-point line against the Ducks, putting the game away by outscoring Oregon, 29-7, in the third quarter. Overall, the Coyotes shot 54 percent from the field and handled the pace well in committing just eight turnovers. The WNIT record for 3-pointers made in a game is 17, by Missouri State in 2005.
The Coyotes were paced by six players reaching double figures in scoring. Kelly Stewart and Abigail Fogg each had 14 points; Tia Hemiller scored 13, Caitlin Duffy had 12, Jasmine Trimboli scored 11 and Nicole Seekamp had 10 points. South Dakota also ruled the boards, taking away a 38-21 edge in rebounds, with more than 5,000 fans raising the roof at the DakotaDome.
Jacinta Vendenberg had a career-high 17 points for Oregon (23-11), which shot just 40 percent from the field. Lexi Bando added 15 points.
Oregon (24-10) at South Dakota (30-6) – This is the first meeting between these programs. Oregon entered the WNIT on a bit of a downbeat, still dealing with the loss of senior Jillian Alleyne. She tore an ACL during practice two games before the Pac-12 tournament, and the Ducks had to press on without her 19 points and 13.6 rebounds per game – in fact, she’s one of just 10 players in women’s D-I history to top 2,000 points and 1,500 rebounds in her career.
Oregon’s primary coping mechanism has been torrid shooting from long range. In front of 9,055 fans at UTEP in the quarterfinals, Oregon came back from an 18-point deficit to secure a 71-67 victory, going 8-of-14 from the 3-point line, and has shot 53 percent (44-of-83) from there in the four WNIT victories. On the season, Oregon leads the nation in 3-point percentage at 42.2 percent.
The Ducks are one victory away from matching the program’s high-water mark of 25 wins. They are looking for their third WNIT title, having claimed the championship in 1989 and 2002, and are 18-4 all-time in the event. The team is also thriving behind the play of freshman point guard Maite Cazorla, a native of the Canary Islands, who averages nearly six assists per game.
South Dakota is wisely leaning on the skills of senior guard Nicole Seekamp, a native Australian and the Summit League player of the year. Through four WNIT games, she’s averaging about 17 points and five rebounds per contest, to go with a nearly 6-to-1 ratio in assists to turnovers.
The Coyotes are an impressive 30-1 at home over the past two seasons and have been building a loyal following of fans at the DakotaDome, site of Wednesday’s semifinal.
“It’s been really refreshing for us to be in a situation in this tournament to be able to face several new opponents we’re unfamiliar with,” said South Dakota head coach Amy Williams. “It’s fun to be coming up with some new game plans and new strategies.
“(The Ducks) are tremendous shooters and they have some really good size inside. They present a lot of problems. It’s going to take a great defensive effort and great focus, but I feel like our team has rose to every challenge we’ve thrown at them.”
Michigan 77, Temple 76
ANN ARBOR, MI – Michigan freshman Hallie Thome put back her own missed shot with 8 seconds remaining Monday night, and the Wolverines held off two last-gasp looks by Temple to slip by the Owls and into the WNIT semifinals for the second straight year.
Michigan (21-13) will play Florida Gulf Coast in one semifinal; that game at FGCU is set for Thursday, March 31 at 8 p.m. ET.
The Wolverines had multiple chances to score on their last possession, chasing down offensive rebounds repeatedly until Thome got the ball on the lower left block. Her first shot was short, but she followed it and converted a layup to make it 77-76. Temple’s Feyonda Fitzgerald was called for an offensive foul with 4 seconds left, as Michigan’s Danielle Williams took the charge.
After a timeout, the Wolverines threw away the inbounds pass, giving the Owls (23-12) one last opportunity. Alliya Butts ended up with a clean look from the top of the 3-point arc, but the ball rattled in and out as time expired.
Michigan trailed by 14 points after one quarter but calmly worked its way back into contention, tying the game after three quarters at 60-all with an 8-0 run in the final minute. The Wolverines scored 51 points in the middle two quarters.
For Michigan, Katelynn Flaherty closed with 23 points; Madison Ristovski added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Thome closed with 13 points and eight rebounds. The Wolverines had a 46-35 edge in rebounds.
Temple got 25 points and seven rebounds from Donnaizha Fountain; Tanaya Atkinson added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Erica Covile chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Florida Gulf Coast 61, Hofstra 46
FORT MYERS, FL – Florida Gulf Coast stayed true to its instincts Monday in the WNIT quarterfinals, making Hofstra uncomfortable with aggressive defense and also building a large early lead as the Eagles advanced to the semifinals.
FGCU (32-5) will play Michigan in one semifinal; the game is at the Eagles’ gym and will tip off at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 31.
The Eagles (who allow just under 50 points per game) had a 15-point lead at halftime, when Hofstra (25-9) shot just 29 percent from the field. The Pride did score 20 points in the third quarter and got within double-digits on a few occasions, but the Eagles were never seriously threatened.
Kaneisha Atwater had 19 points and nine rebounds for Florida Gulf Coast; Whitney Knight came through with 16 points and 14 rebounds, along with two blocked shots. The Eagles led the rebounding battle, 52-35, and were not hurt by their 7-of-14 effort from the free-throw line.
For Hofstra, Darius Faulk and Anjie White each had 10 points. Faulk (who played all 40 minutes) added 10 rebounds, and White reeled in eight rebounds – the Pride ended up shooting just 1-of-16 from 3-point range and shot just 29 percent from the field overall.
Oregon 71, UTEP 67
EL PASO, TX – Oregon fought back from an 18-point deficit in front of UTEP’s 9,000-plus fans Monday night and earned a spot in the Postseason WNIT semifinals by handing the Miners their first loss at home for the entire 2015-16 season.
The Ducks (24-10) will travel to South Dakota for their semifinal matchup; tipoff for the game is 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 30.
UTEP (29-5) took a 60-58 lead with 3 minutes, 19 seconds to go on a 3-pointer from Starr Breedlove, but Oregon went on a 10-0 run to build some breathing room that proved necessary before making it to the final buzzer. Cameasha Turner hit a 3-pointer for UTEP with 24 seconds left to make it 70-64, and Jenzel Nash got loose for a layup to cut the score to 70-66 with 18 seconds to go. Turner hit a free throw; UTEP did get two shots on its last possession but couldn’t convert.
Oregon continued its hot shooting from 3-point range (8-of-14, 57 percent) and had five players reach double figures in scoring. Lexi Petersen had 16 points and five rebounds, and three players (Kat Cooper, Lexi Bando and Maite Cazorla) each had 14 points. Cooper had nine rebounds; Jacinta Vandenberg closed with 10 points and eight rebounds. The Ducks had 20 turnovers, but shot better than 50 percent from the field.
The Miners got 19 points from Turner, while Breedlove and Nash each scored 17 points. Breedlove also contributed five rebounds and six assists, while Chrishauna Parker had nine rebounds. UTEP was hurt by going just 4-of-12 from the free-throw line.
Hofstra (25-8) at Florida Gulf Coast (31-5) – This is the first-ever meeting between these teams. Hofstra is making a postseason run despite some serious headwinds. First, the Pride lost early in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, which was a shock to the roster; the team has also been hampered with injuries and forced to improvise in terms of a lineup. Hofstra’s starting five on March 22 (a 65-57 victory against Virginia) featured three players who had combined for just ten total starts on the season before that game: Olivia Askin, Aleana Leon and Jakelle King-Gilchrist. The Pride has two double-digit scorers in Kelly Loftus (12.3 ppg) and Ashunae Durant (11.6 ppg).
Florida Gulf Coast puts a lot of stock on the 3-point shot to drive its offense, ranking third nationally in made 3-pointers on the season. However, that doesn’t mean the Eagles stand and watch their jumpshots – they hustle back on defense and give up under 50 points per game. FGCU has used the disappointment of an upset loss in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament to fuel its run in the WNIT.
"It's still do-or-die time," said FGCU senior Whitney Knight, the two-time A-Sun player of year. "We know that if we lose a game, that's the end for us. We want to continue playing as long as we can. That's motivating us. We're all playing together as a team because of that. We want to keep winning."
Temple (23-11) at Michigan (20-13) – Surprisingly, these two longtime power programs in women’s basketball have met only once previously – Temple prevailed, 65-58, in November of 2005. With four players scoring in double figures, the Owls have been able to use their depth to make this WNIT run that includes two road victories. Alliya Butts leads the way with 15.3 points per game, and she’s the team’s most reliable option from the 3-point line. The team has to work around shooting less than 30 percent from long distance.
Both Michigan and Temple are trying to repeat as WNIT semifinalists from 2015. The Wolverines played much better in the second half of the Big Ten schedule to close at 9-9 overall, and they’ve been offensively potent in the WNIT, averaging about 85 points per game on 54 percent shooting (48 percent from 3-point range). Katelynn Flaherty, a sophomore, now owns the program’s single-season scoring record with 738 points, and she was an all-Big Ten first team selection.
Oregon (23-10) at UTEP (29-4) – This will be the second meeting between these programs; Oregon won the first time, 90-70, in January of 1994. Before the Ducks began their WNIT run, they lost three straight games where they shot below 30 percent from 3-point range – in their three WNIT victories, their shooting better than 52 percent.
“Young kids are getting valuable minutes and they’re producing,” said Oregon head coach Kelly Graves. “Just for their psyche and for the offseason inspiration, it can be big for them. This is a valuable experience for us and on top of that, we’re winning and having some success.”
UTEP will look to ride its large, enthusiastic home crowd to the semifinals. The Miners aren’t typically effective from the 3-point line, shooting just 26 percent overall, but they have a way of causing trouble on defense, forcing more than 20 turnovers a game on average.
“This was a great, great win for us,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said after the Miners topped TCU on Thursday. “I thought we played extremely hard. TCU has some really good guards who can really shoot the basketball. They have a really good team. What has really happened here is that the city of El Paso is coming to life here in the Haskins Center and our players are really feeding off that. They’re having fun and it’s just great energy.”
South Dakota 68, Western Kentucky 54
VERMILLION – The South Dakota Coyotes (30-6) are headed to the WNIT semifinals after downing Western Kentucky
68-54 in front of a raucous home crowd in the DakotaDome Sunday night.
Nicole Seekamp paced the Coyotes with 18 points and dished out nine assists. Jasmine Trimboli and Kelly Stewart both scored 11 points in the win. Stewart also finished with a team-high nine rebounds.
Western Kentucky’s Kendall Noble finished with a game-high 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Tashia Brown netted 12 points and seven boards.
WKU trailed 31-29 at the half and tied the game at 31-all with 8:56 to play in the third quarter off a Ivy Brown layup. However, that was the closest the Lady Toppers would get, as the Coyotes were too much down the stretch. South Dakota’s largest lead was 16 points (68-52) with 1:02 left in the 4th quarter. The Coyotes connected on 12 three-pointers while holding the Lady Toppers to just 1 of 8 from behind the arc.
This was the first-ever meeting between two teams. The Coyotes improve to 6-2 all-time in WNIT games and have reached the semifinals for the first time in program history.
South Dakota will play the winner of Oregon at UTEP, which is slated to tip tomorrow night (Monday) at 9 p.m. ET. Semifinal game information will be announced immediately following the game.
Western Kentucky 78, Saint Louis 76 (OT)
ST. LOUIS, MO – In the first overtime game of the 2016 Postseason WNIT, Western Kentucky’s Sidnee Bopp hit a 3-pointer with less than a second to go Friday for her only points of the contest, easing the Lady Toppers past Saint Louis and into the quarterfinals.
Western Kentucky (27-6) will travel to South Dakota for its quarterfinal matchup against South Dakota – tipoff is set for Sunday, March 27 at 7 p.m. CT.
Sadie Stipanovich hit two free throws for the Billikens (26-8) with 2 seconds left to put the game in overtime at 69-all; scoring was minimal until the end of the extra period. Saint Louis went ahead 74-73 on a layup from Jenny Vliet; 20 seconds later, WKU went up 75-74 on a shot from Jalynn McClain. After two looks at the basket, SLU went up 76-75 on a long, contested jumper from Olivia Jakubicek.
After a timeout, Bopp got loose on the left side and calmly sank her jumper; after a brief review of the video, the basket was confirmed, sending the Lady Toppers out of Round 3.
Western Kentucky got 22 points from Tashia Brown; Kendall Noble did it all with 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Ivy Brown added 17 points and nine rebounds.
Saint Louis was led by Maddison Gits, who closed with 15 points. Jackie Kemph had 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Stipanovich ended up with 12 points and nine rebounds.
South Dakota 51, Northern Iowa 50
VERMILLION, SD – On a night when it was tough to make a shot, South Dakota dug in and won this one thanks to rebounding, easing by Northern Iowa to advance to the quarterfinals of the Postseason WNIT.
South Dakota (29-6) will host either Saint Louis or Western Kentucky on Sunday, March 27; tipoff is 7 p.m. CT.
The Coyotes took a 49-48 lead with 3:19 to go in the fourth quarter on a jumper from Tia Hemiller, then protected that margin with a series of clutch offensive rebounds (South Dakota closed with a 43-27 edge in boards). A free throw by Margaret McCloud made it 51-48 with 53 seconds left; Angie Davison hit a jumper with 42 seconds remaining for UNI, but the Panthers (24-11) missed a 3-pointer with about 9 seconds left, and a final shot was an airball.
South Dakota got 16 points and six assists from Nicole Seekamp; Jen Keitel scored 19 points and added six rebounds for Northern Iowa. Davison scored 13 points for the Panthers.
The teams combined to hit just three of 28 3-point attempts; South Dakota was also helped by shooting nine more free throws than the Panthers.
UTEP 79, TCU 71
EL PASO, TX – UTEP controlled the middle of Thursday’s game against TCU, outscoring the Horned Frogs by 22 points in the second and third quarters to win comfortably and move to the Postseason WNIT quarterfinals.
UTEP (29-4), which is now 19-0 at home this season, will play Oregon for a chance to advance to the semifinals. That game is at UTEP on Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. MT.
The Miners trailed in the first quarter but used a balanced offense to regain their footing. TCU (18-15) cut its deficit to 64-55 with 6 minutes, 23 seconds left in the final quarter, but a 2-minute scoring drought allowed UTEP to ease back ahead. The lead was cut to nine again (70-61) on two free throws by TCU’s Caitlin Diaz at 3:44 of the fourth, but UTEP’s Chrishauna Parker drained a 3-pointer on the next possession.
UTEP was paced by Starr Breedlove (21 points, five rebounds, eight assists) and Jenzel Nash (20 points, seven rebounds). Cameasha Turner also contributed 20 points; the Miners shot a solid 50 percent from the field and were not overly affected by their 16 turnovers.
TCU got 17 points from Jada Butts; Zahna Medley added 20 points, five rebounds and six assists, and Veja Hamilton came through with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Horned Frogs made 22 free throws but shot under 39 percent from the field.
Temple 75, Ohio 61
PHILADELPHIA – Temple burst out to a 16-point lead after the first quarter Thursday and never let Ohio back into the game, pushing the Owls through to the Postseason WNIT quarterfinals.
Temple (23-11) will face Michigan (20-13) in one quarterfinal, looking to reach the Postseason WNIT semis for the second straight year. Tipoff at Michigan is set for Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. ET.
The Owls gave up a little ground to the Bobcats in the second quarter by being outscored by six points, but they rebuilt the lead to 60-45 at the end of the third quarter as all the scoring for those 30 minutes came from the players in the starting lineup. Feyonda Fitzgerald added 22 points and six assists, while Alliya Butts closed with 18 points. Donnaizha Fountain contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Tanaya Atkinson also had 13 points.
Ohio (26-7) struggled offensively for most of the night and was particularly slowed by its 3-point shooting, going 3-for-21 overall. Quiera Lampkins closed with 20 points; Yamonie Jenkins added 12 points. The Bobcats cut the lead to 68-58 with about four minutes remaining, which is as close as they would get in the second half.
Temple enjoyed a 44-32 lead in rebounds and forced 15 Ohio turnovers.
We’ve got four games to go in Round 3 of the 2016 Postseason WNIT – already waiting in the quarterfinals are the squads from Florida Gulf Coast, Hofstra, Michigan and Oregon.
March 24 games:
Ohio (26-6) at Temple (22-11) – The Bobcats are in the WNIT for the first time in program history and are 0-2 all-time against Temple. Ohio is in a resurgent era these days, winning 27 games last year, which was an 18-game improvement from the season before. Kiyanna Black is averaging 18.4 points per game, with Quiera Lampkins chipping in 14.6 points per contest. The Bobcats typically play solid defense, forcing about 19 turnovers per game and holding the opposition to just under 60 points per game.
Temple is in the WNIT for the sixth time and is known for playing in some tight contests. The Owls eked past Quinnipiac by two points in Round 2; last year, they made a run to the WNIT semifinals and played two overtime games, losing the last one to West Virginia. One of Temple’s strengths is the ability to spread out the offense to multiple players – Alliya Butts (15.2 ppg) leads the team, but two other players average in double figures, and two more average in the upper 9.0 range.
Northern Iowa (24-10) at South Dakota (28-6) – Northern Iowa is in the WNIT for the sixth time; the Panthers are 6-6 all-time against South Dakota and beat the Coyotes handily back in November, 64-43. Madison Weekly is a potent force for UNI, averaging about 18 points per contest and shooting a robust 42 percent from 3-point range. The Panthers will prioritize taking care of the ball, as they average just 11 turnovers per contest.
The home team has won 11 times in the 12 games between the teams; South Dakota will look to crank up the pace, as it averages about 80 points per game (11th in the nation). By season’s end, the Coyotes will have set program records for points, rebounds, assists, field goals made and field goals attempted. Senior guard Nicole Seekamp was the Summit League player of the year; the Australian native has topped 2,000 points in her career and averages about 16 points per contest.
TCU (18-14) at UTEP (28-4) – This is the 15th game all-time between these teams, with TCU leading, 8-6, but just the first meeting for these Texas-based programs in 15 years. Senior guard Zehna Medley is TCU’s all-time leading scorer with 1,955 points; she’s been an all-Big 12 first team selection three times. The Horned Frogs have been outrebounded by opponents this season, but the team has four shooters from 3-point range who have been effective.
UTEP is a handful at home, going 18-0 this year; the Miners were ranked as high as No. 25 this year in the USA TODAY coaches poll. The team causes a lot of disruption defensively, holding teams to under 39 percent shooting from the field and forcing nearly 21 turnovers per contest. UTEP will struggle at times with its own efficiency on offense, shooting just 41 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3-point range.
Western Kentucky (26-6) at Saint Louis (26-7) – This is the second meeting between the programs; WKU won back in 1991 by the score of 115-33. The Lady Toppers are in the Postseason WNIT for the 11th time – Kendall Noble leads the way with 18 points and 7.56 rebounds per game, while Tashia Brown (who rang up 32 points in the Round 2 victory against UT Martin) averages 17.6 points per contest. Western Kentucky has back-to-back 25-win seasons for the first time since the early 1990s.
Saint Louis won its first two WNIT games by a total of five points; Monday’s win against Ball State came despite the team laboring to make shots, but the Billikens played superior defense to keep it close. Still, the game was nearly lost in the last 10 seconds when Ball State stole an inbounds pass but missed a layup. Atlantic-10 co-player of the year Jackie Kemph is averaging 16.7 points and seven assists per contest.
Oregon 73, Utah 63
EUGENE – Lexi Bando scores 34 points to lead the Oregon Ducks to a 73-63 victory over Utah in Round 3 of the WNIT.
Bando was 6 of 11 from three-point land and was one point shy of setting a career high. Lexi Petersen netted 14 points and Maite Cazorla finished with 13 for the Ducks.
Emily Potter paced Utah with 21 points and 10 rebounds; Malia Nawahine finished with 13.
Oregon shot 47 percent from behind the arc, while Utah struggled only hitting 3 of 23 attempts. The Ducks were the best three-point shooting team in the nation this year at 41.7 percent.
This was the third meeting between the two Pac-12 foes this season with Oregon winning both prior games (77-65 at Utah and 69-58 in Eugene). The Ducks are now 14-9 all-time against the Utes and 10-2 in home contests.
Oregon will play the winner of TCU at UTEP, which is slated to tip tomorrow night at 7 p.m. ET. Quarterfinal details will be announced immediately following the game.
Florida Gulf Coast 73, Tulane 61
FORT MYERS – The Florida Gulf Coast women’s basketball team earned its 31st win of the season and the program’s first-ever trip to the WNIT quarterfinals after a 73-61 win at home over Tulane. The Eagles have won 30 or more games in two consecutive seasons.
FGCU will host Hofstra in the quarterfinals on Monday, March 28 at 7 p.m. ET. Hofstra is coming into the game after a 65-57 win over Virginia.
A-Sun Player of the Year Whitney Knight finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 boards for FGCU. Knight connected on seven shots from behind the arc. Leading scorer Kaneisha Atwater finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Tulane’s Kolby Morgan finished with 12 points surpassing the 1000-point mark for her career. She becomes the first underclassmen in program history and 27th all-time to reach 1000 points.
Tonight’s game marked the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The Eagles never trailed in the game and hit 11 three-pointers in the win.
FGCU is making its sixth appearance in the WNIT and first since the 2013 season. The Eagles are now 6-5 all-time in WNIT games with wins over Drexel, George Washington, USF and now Bethune-Cookman, Wake Forest and Tulane. The team advanced to the second round in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2016 and will appear in its first-ever quarterfinal game.
Hofstra 65, Virginia 57
HEMPSTEAD – The Hofstra Pride (25-8) are headed to the WNIT quarterfinal round for the first time since 2007 after a 65-57 win over Virginia (18-16).
Aleana Leon finished with a game-high 15 points and five rebounds for Hofstra. Teammate Anjie White scored 13 points and pulled down ten boards in the win.
Three Virginia players finished in double figures with Lauren Moses scoring a team-high 16 points. Faith Randolph netted 13 points and Breyana Mason with 12.
Hofstra ended the game hitting 8 of its last 9 shots while Virginia connected on only 2 of 8 attempts. With the game tied at 50-50 with six minutes to play, Hofstra used an 11-3 run to seal the win.
This was only second time the two schools have met; the series is now tied at 1-1.
Hofstra will play the winner of Tulane at Florida Gulf Coast which will tip Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET.
Michigan 78, San Diego 51
ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan women’s basketball team is headed to the WNIT quarterfinals for the second straight year following a 78-51 victory over San Diego in Round 3.
Katelynn Flaherty continues to lead Michigan’s potent offensive attack after a game-high 24 points. Hallie Thome added 16 points and seven rebounds; Madison Ristovski scored 14 points.
San Diego senior guard Malina Hood finished with a team-high 16 points and six rebounds.
Michigan jumped out to an early 26-9 after the first quarter and never trailed in the game. The Wolverines hit 58 percent of their shots from the field including seven makes from behind the arc. San Diego only connected on 2 of 17 from three-point range and finished at 35 percent from the field.
This was the first-ever matchup between the two teams. Michigan (20-13) has won 20 or more games in five consecutive seasons. San Diego ends the season at 25-8.
Michigan will await the winner of the Ohio at Temple matchup, which is slated for Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Quarterfinal game information will be announced immediately following that game.
Tulane (23-11) at Florida Gulf Coast (30-5) – The Green Wave got past a potent Georgia Tech team in Round 2, playing lockdown defense in the final seconds to secure the 64-61 victory. Tulane had another tight one in Round 1, getting past Alabama, 53-52. Kolby Morgan averages nearly 18 points per game and also leads the team in steals.
FGCU has reached the 30-victory plateau for the second time and tends to win with defense, forcing more than 16 turnovers per game. Kaneisha Atwater averages 14 points per game, and Whitney Knight chips in with 12.9 ppg. The Eagles won their first-ever Round 2 game in the WNIT with a 67-48 triumph against Wake Forest.
“We came out and executed at a really high level,” said Karl Smesko, who has coached FGCU since the team's inception in 2002. “This is a really good win. Wake Forest has beaten Duke and North Carolina and N.C. State, so you know they're a capable team.”
Utah (18-14) at Oregon (22-10) – The Utes topped 90 points for the third time this season in Monday’s victory against Gonzaga. First-year coach Lynne Roberts has kept her team mentally and physically sharp, despite having a two-week layoff thanks to an early exit from the Pac-12 tournament.
“It’s just fun at this stage; it’s just a chance to compete and keep playing together, and the fact that we’re still playing means that we had a really good year,” Roberts said. “So this is kind of the reward that you get for that. … If a team can’t get motivated to play in the postseason, then they should get out of it.”
The Ducks were not to be messed with Monday in their 25-point victory against Fresno State. Offensive stars were numerous, with Kat Cooper scoring nine points in the first 10 minutes to get Oregon off to a stellar start.
“I’m really proud of our team tonight. I thought we played really hard,” said Oregon coach Kelly Graves. “Obviously we shot the heck out of it tonight, but I think that came from really good execution. I thought that, the third quarter especially, when we broke it open, that’s as good of basketball as I’ve ever gotten to coach.”
Tuesday, March 22 Previews
San Diego (25-7) at Michigan (19-13) – This is the first-ever matchup between these programs. The Toreros have been road warriors so far, winning at Northwestern and IUPUI to start the tournament, with San Diego natives and sisters Malina Hood (a senior) and Maya Hood (a junior) pacing the offense with a combined 33 points per game. Maya Hood was the West Coast Conference defensive player of the year.
The Wolverines reached the WNIT semifinals last year before losing to eventual champion UCLA. Katelynn Flaherty is an all-category force as a sophomore, shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range and averaging 22.3 points per contest. Siera Thompson is just two assists away from Michigan’s single-season record, and freshman Hallie Thome (14.6 ppg) will likely set a school mark for best field-goal percentage.
Virginia (18-15) at Hofstra (24-8) – Virginia won the only other time these teams have played, 82-66, in the 2010 season opener for the Cavaliers. Virginia outrebounded Rutgers by 17 in their Round 2 game; Faith Randolph averages 13.5 points per game, and three other players sit at just under 10 points per contest. The team has won two WNIT games despite the exit of sophomore Mikayla Venson, who averaged 15.1 ppg but left the program before the WNIT opener versus VCU.
The Pride won at Villanova in Round 2; they are 13-1 in home games this season. Jakelle King-Gilcrest scored a career-high 22 points against Villanova. Hofstra will likely lean on its defense against Virginia, as the Pride has allowed just under 57 points per game while forcing about 16 turnovers each time out. Opponents are also shooting a bleak 27 percent from the 3-point line.
Florida Gulf Coast 67, Wake Forest 48
FORT MYERS, FL – Florida Gulf Coast’s defense, which has allowed less than 49 points per game, played with characteristic intensity and muzzled Wake Forest in their Round 2 contest Monday in the Postseason WNIT, allowing the Eagles to advance to Round 3.
Florida Gulf Coast (30-5) will face Tulane at home on Wednesday, March 23 – tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
The Eagles forced 19 turnovers on the night, jumping ahead early when Wake Forest (17-16) made just three of its first 20 field goal attempts. The game stayed relatively close at halftime because Florida Gulf Coast only scored 11 points of its own in the second quarter, carrying a 31-15 lead into the break.
Kaneisha Atwater, who averaged 14 points per contest coming into Monday’s game, had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Eagles. Stephanie Haas added 18 points as Florida Gulf Coast evened its all-time record in the WNIT to 5-5. The Eagles hit nine 3-pointers and survived a shaky 8-of-17 effort from the free-throw line.
Wake Forest was paced by Milan Quinn, who had 14 points and 15 rebounds. The Deacons also got 12 points and five rebounds from Ariel Stephenson.
Tulane 64, Georgia Tech 61
ATLANTA – Tulane won its first game in five tries all-time against Georgia Tech, holding off a late push by the Yellow Jackets to secure the win and a spot in Round 3 of the Postseason WNIT.
Tulane (23-11) will hit the road again and face Florida Gulf Coast in the next round, with tipoff on Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. ET.
Taylor Emery hit a jumpshot to push The Green Wave ahead, 62-57, with 2 minutes, 16 seconds remaining. Georgia Tech (20-13) missed a couple of shots, but cut it to 62-59 with 55 seconds left on two free throws by Imani Tilford. Emery got a key offensive board and hit a free throw; Aaliyah Whiteside hit two free throws for GT, but the Jackets’ last look at the basket fell short to give the Green Wave the win.
Kolby Morgan had 22 points and six rebounds for Tulane, and Leslie Vorpahl added 16 points and six assists. Whiteside finished with 25 points and eight rebounds; teammate Katarina Vuckovic added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Saint Louis 59, Ball State 55
ST. LOUIS, MO – Saint Louis started Monday’s game by going 4-of-27 from the field, but the Billikens kept Ball State in range and hit enough free throws in the final minute to eke out the victory in Round 2 of the Postseason WNIT.
Saint Louis (26-7) will face Western Kentucky in Round 3. That game will be played in St. Louis on Friday, March 25, at 7 p.m. CT.
Jackie Kemph’s two free throws and another by teammate Jamesia Price put SLU up, 57-53, with 16 seconds to go. Ball State’s Nathalie Fontaine hit two free throws to make it 57-55 with 10 seconds left, and the Cardinals stole the ensuing entry pass after a Billikens timeout. However, Ball State missed the layup, and Kemph added two more free throws to close the deal.
Kemph, the A-10 co-player of the year as a sophomore, ended up with 26 points and seven assists. Sadie Stipanovich chipped in with eight points and 13 rebounds; SLU had a 48-38 advantage in rebounds and worked around a tough night from 3-point range, going just 4-of-25.
Ball State (22-10) was led by Moriah Monaco, who had 21 points and seven rebounds. Fontaine added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Cardinals, who shot 30 percent from the field and had 15 turnovers.
Western Kentucky 62, UT Martin 57
BOWLING GREEN, KY – Tashia Brown scored 11 of Western Kentucky’s first 13 points and rumbled her way to 30 points overall, driving the Lady Toppers past UT Martin in Round 2 of the Postseason WNIT.
Western Kentucky (26-6) will play at Saint Louis in Round 3 – that game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT on Friday, March 25.
The Lady Toppers pulled ahead after scoring 25 points in the third quarter, but had to fend off UT Martin (22-10) all the way to the finish. Kendall Noble hit a free throw for WKU to make it 60-55 with 33 seconds to go, and the Skyhawks missed a key 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining.
Noble came through with 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds as the Lady Toppers moved to 5-0 all-time against UT Martin.
The Skyhawks, who had 18 turnovers, were led by Haley Howard, who had 15 points. Chelsea Roberts and Katie Schubert each had 10 points and four rebounds.
Utah 92, Gonzaga 77
SPOKANE, WA – Utah’s ability to make things happen offensively in every key category drove the Utes past Gonzaga in Round 2 of the Postseason WNIT.
Utah (18-14) will play at Oregon in Round 3 – that game tips off at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 23.
The Utes had five players with double-figure scoring totals; the team was 46 percent from the field, 24-for-28 from the free-throw line and also drained 10 3-pointers overall. Utah was paced by Paige Crozon, who had 22 points and five rebounds; Malia Nawahine added 17 points and four rebounds, Tanaeya Boclair had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Emily Potter closed with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Gonzaga (19-14) got 18 points and nine rebounds from Jill Barta. Laura Stockton had 15 points, and Emma Stach added 13 points. The Bulldogs were outscored in the middle two quarters, 48-34.
Oregon 84, Fresno State 59
EUGENE, OR – Oregon outscored Fresno State in the third quarter, 31-11, to break open Monday’s Round 2 game as four players scored in double figures for the Ducks.
Oregon (22-10) will play Utah in Round 3 – tipoff at Oregon will be 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 23.
The Ducks (who won the WNIT in 1989 and 2002) entered Monday’s game shooting 41 percent from 3-point range as a team, and they were certainly on target against the Bulldogs, going 13-for-20 overall (65 percent). Maite Cazorla closed with 20 points and nine assists for Oregon; Lexi Petersen had 19 points and six rebounds, Lexi Bando had 15 points and Kat Cooper chipped in with 13 points.
Such was Oregon’s early burst of offense, the Ducks still reached 80-plus points despite scoring just nine points in the fourth quarter.
Fresno State (22-12) got 19 points from Toni Smith; Bego Faz Davalos tallied 12 points and 10 rebounds.
UTEP 74, Arkansas State 68
EL PASO – UTEP gave up the lead in the fourth quarter, but a couple of late fourth-quarter shots wrapped around a critical offensive rebound allowed the Miners to slip into Round 3 of the Postseason WNIT.
The Miners (28-4) will play TCU in Round 3; the game will be played at UTEP on Thursday, March 24 at 9 p.m. ET.
Aundrea Gamble hit two free throws with 2:52 remaining to put Arkansas State up, 67-66. With 45 seconds to go, Agata Dobrowolska hit a jumper to pull the Miners ahead, 70-68, and teammate Starr Breedlove chased down a huge offensive rebound on the next UTWEP possession. On the next sequence, Jenzel Nash hit a layup to pull UTEP ahead, 72-68.
Sparkle Taylor closed with 18 points for the Miners; Cameasha Turner and Nash each had 16 points as UTEP worked around 17 turnovers.
The Red Wolves (27-6) were paced by Gamble’s 21 points; Khadi Brown-Haywood came through with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Amanda Lawson scored 11 points. Arkansas State was outrebounded, 39-28.
Virginia 71, Rutgers 55
PISCATAWAY, NJ – Faith Randolph, whose steal and two free throws late against VCU gave Virginia a win Thursday, scored 23 points Sunday as the Cavaliers rolled past Rutgers in the second round of the Postseason WNIT.
Virginia (18-15) had lost to Rutgers (19-15) earlier in the season at the Paradise Jam in the US Virgin Islands. But with Sunday’s win, the Cavaliers move onto Round 3 in the WNIT and will play Hofstra – game time at Hofstra is 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 22. This is the sixth time Virginia has played in the Postseason WNIT, reaching the quarterfinals on four occasions.
The Cavaliers also got a big effort from guard Aliyah Huland El, who closed with 17 points and three rebounds. Virginia outscored Rutgers, 43-22, in the middle two quarters to break the game open.
The Scarlet Knights, who were the 2014 WNIT champions and 7-0 all-time in the event, were paced by Kahleah Copper, who had 19 points and five rebounds, with Tyler Scaife adding 13 points and five rebounds. Rutgers was outrebounded, 43-26; the team shot 44 percent from the field and struggled from the free-throw line, going just 8-for-22.
Temple 64, Quinnipiac 62
HAMDEN, NJ – Temple’s eight-point lead after halftime was slowly reduced by Quinnipiac in the final two quarters, but the Owls hit a couple of key free throws late to post the victory and move on to the third round of the Postseason WNIT.
Temple (22-11) will face Ohio in Round 3 – that game will be held at Temple on Thursday, March 24, at 7 p.m. ET.
The Owls got 23 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals from Feyonda Fitzgerald. Tanaya Atkinson added 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Erica Covile came through with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Quinnipiac (25-9) missed a couple of critical shots in the final minute; Carly Fabbri hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final points of the contest. Paula Strautmane had 19 points and eight rebounds, and Aryn McClure added 17 points and seven rebounds.
Ohio 64, Virginia Tech 57
ATHENS, OH – Ohio claimed its second postseason tournament victory in program history Sunday, forcing 17 turnovers and easing past Virginia Tech in Round 2 of the Postseason WNIT.
The Bobcats (26-6) will face Temple in Round 3 – tipoff at Temple is set for Thursday, March 24 at 7 p.m. ET.
Quiera Lampkins came through with 26 points and nine rebounds for Ohio, and Kiyanna Black added 13 points. With her three 3-pointers, she now has 126 for the season, just one away from the NCAA single-season record.
The Hokies (18-14) got 22 points and 10 rebounds from Sidney Cook, and Hannah Young added 11 points. Virginia Tech shot just under 35 percent from the field.
South Dakota 101, Minnesota 89
MINNEAPOLIS – In a wild game where shots came by the bunches, South Dakota had five players reach double figures in scoring, which was enough to hold off Minnesota and send the Coyotes to the third round of the Postseason WNIT.
South Dakota (28-6) will face Northern Iowa in Round 3 – tipoff in South Dakota will be 7 p.m. CT Thursday, March 24.
Senior guard Kelly Stewart had 19 points and nine rebounds for South Dakota; Nicole Seekamp came through with 18 points and 14 assists, and Caitlin Duffy added 17 points. Also contributing huge baskets were Jasmine Trimboli and Kate Liveringhouse, with 14 points apiece.
Minnesota (20-12) got another monster night from Rachel Banham, who closed with 37 points. Banham set a WNIT record with 48 points in the Gophers’ Round 1 win against Milwaukee. Carlie Wagner contributed with 18 points and eight rebounds, with Karley Barnes adding 10 points and eight rebounds.
TCU 85, Eastern Michigan 81
FORT WORTH – The TCU women’s basketball team withstands a late surge from a feisty Eastern Michigan squad to advance to the third round of the WNIT following an 85-81 win.
Five TCU players scored in double figures including a team-high 23 points from AJ Alix. Veja Hamilton finished with 18 points and eight rebounds and Zahna Medley added 13 points and five assists. Toree Thompson and Jada Butts chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Three EMU players scored 20 or more points with Chanise Baldwin’s 26, 24 for Cha Sweeney and 20 by Janay Morton.
TCU entered the game coming off a 97-73 victory over UT Rio Grande Valley. The 97 points was the most scored by TCU in a postseason game in program history and the most by a Big 12 Conference team all-time in a Postseason WNIT game.
TCU will play the winner of Arkansas State at UTEP which is slated to tip on Monday, March 21 at 9 p.m. ET. Third round game information will be announced immediately following the game.
Northern Iowa 64, Drake 58
CEDAR FALLS – Northern Iowa knocks off Missouri Valley Conference foe Drake 64-58 to advance to the third round of the Postseason WNIT.
Senior forward Amber Sorenson finished with a team-high 16 points for UNI. Stephanie Davison recorded 15 points and Madison Weekly added 13. Sharnae Lamar dished out 15 assists in the game which sets a new single-game WNIT record. The previous record of 13 was held by six players.
Maddy Dean finished with a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds for Drake while Sara Rhine scored 11.
Both teams struggled from the field tonight with Drake hitting 37 percent and Northern Iowa 36. The Panthers connected on 12 three-pointers, while the Bulldogs were only 5 of 22 on the night.
The win marked the third WNIT victory in school history for Northern Iowa. Both teams know each other well with the series dating back to 1975. With the loss, Drake is now 56-24 all-time against the Panthers.
San Diego 59, IUPUI 48
INDIANAPOLIS – The San Diego Toreros (25-7) advance to round three of the Postseason WNIT after a 59-48 road win over the IUPUI Jaguars (21-11) Saturday evening in Indianapolis.
Sophomore forward Sydney Williams finished with a team-high 16 points for San Diego. Maya Hood added 12 points and four steals.
IUPUI sophomore guard Danielle Lawrence was the only player in double figures for the Jaguars scoring a game-high 18 points.
San Diego shot 54 percent from three-point land connecting on 6 of 11 shots, while holding IUPUI to a mere 13 percent (2 of 15) from behind the arc. The Toreros also forced 25 Jaguar turnovers.
San Diego is playing in the WNIT for the sixth time in school history and is making its fifth consecutive appearance in the tournament. The team will be playing in the third round for the first time since the 2013-14 season. In 2012, the Toreros advanced all the way to the semifinals.
USD will travel to Ann Arbor to face the Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. ET. Michigan is coming off a 95-72 home win over Bucknell.
Hofstra 82, Villanova 74
VILLANOVA – Five players score in double figures and the Hofstra Pride use a 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter to defeat Villanova 82-74 to advance to round three of the #WNIT.
Senior guard Jakelle King-Gilchrist scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the win for Hofstra. Darius Faulk added 17 points and dished out eight assists. Anjie White finished with 14 points, while Kelly Loftus and Aleana Leon both had 11.
Katherine Coyer scored a team-high 21 points coming off the bench for Villanova (20-12) and Adrianna Hahn finished with 18. The wildcats led 54-53 at the end of the third quarter following a layup by Coyer as time expired, but Hofstra’s 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter was too much for Villanova to recover from. Hofstra would go on to lead by as much 11 points in the fourth.
Hofstra (24-8) is making its sixth-ever appearance in the WNIT and is in the field for the second straight year. With the win, the Pride tie the all-time series with Villanova at 1-1. The only other meeting came in 2006 where both teams met in the WNIT second round with the Wildcats prevailing, 71-46.
Hofstra advances to the third round for the first time since 2007 when the team made a run to the quarterfinals before falling to Western Kentucky. The Pride will play the winner of Virginia at Rutgers matchup which is set to tip Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. ET. Hofstra’s third round game information will be released following the conclusion of that game.
Michigan 95, Bucknell 72
ANN ARBOR – For the third straight season, the University of Michigan women’s basketball team advances to the third round of the Postseason WNIT after defeating Bucknell, 95-72. It’s the fifth time in school history the Wolverines have advanced to round three of the WNIT.
Both teams finished with four players in double figures. Michigan outscored Bucknell 33-14 in the fourth quarter and shot 57 percent from the field in the win. The Bison shot well from behind the arc hitting 8 of 15 attempts.
Michigan sophomore Katelynn Flaherty finished with 15 points, becoming the first Wolverine in school history and the 16th player in Big Ten history to reach the 700-point mark in a single season. Hallie Thome led all scorers with 24 points hitting 11 of 15 shots; Siera Thompson netted 20 and Madison Ristovski added 16.
Jacquie Klotz led Bucknell with 21 points and seven rebounds. Sune Swart came off the bench to score 16 points and six rebounds. Kyi English and Claire DeBoer finished with 14 and 10 points respectively.
Michigan (19-13) is now 3-0 all-time against Bucknell (27-6); the two teams met last year in Ann Arbor with the Wolverines winning 68-61. Michigan will host San Diego in round three on Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. ET.
Utah 95, Montana State 61
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah opened up a 16-point lead at halftime and came through with a wicked finishing kick, scoring 37 points in the fourth quarter, to ease past Montana State in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
The Utes (17-14) will have a Round 2 assignment at Gonzaga on Monday, March 21, with tipoff set for 6 p.m. PT. Utah was paced by Paige Crozon, who had 20 points and five rebounds; Katie Kuklok added 18 points, and Emily Potter rumbled her way to 13 points and 14 rebounds. The 95 points tied for the second-most in the tournament so far, with TCU scoring 97 and Drake also tallying 95.
The Bobcats (21-10), which ended the season on a four-game losing streak, got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Peyton Ferris.
Fresno State 59, Santa Clara 53
FRESNO, CA – Sophomore center Bego Faz Davalos scored on two layups with about 2 minutes remaining, opening up some precious breathing room for Fresno State, and the Bulldogs held tough the rest of the way to post a victory against Santa Clara in the final first-round game of the Postseason WNIT.
Fresno State (22-11) will play at Oregon in Round 2; tipoff is set for Monday, March 21 at 6 p.m. PT. The numbers from Davalos were impressive across the board – the Mexican native closed with 21 points, seven rebounds, six blocked shots and five steals. Shauqunna Collins added 14 points, five steals and four assists; the Bulldogs forced 25 Santa Clara turnovers.
Santa Clara (23-9) was paced by Devin Hudson, who scored 11 points.
Quinnipiac 90, Maine 44
HAMDEN, CN – Quinnipiac bolted to a 30-point lead by halftime against Maine and closed the game with the edge in virtually every key category, sending the Bobcats past the Black Bears in the first round of the Postseason WNIT for their first-ever postseason victory.
Quinnipiac (25-8) will play host to Temple in Round 2 – tipoff is set for Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. ET. The Bobcats were paced by Paula Strautmane (a freshman forward from Latvia), who had 21 points and nine rebounds, while Adily Martucci added 18 points. Sarah Shewan chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Quinnipiac outscored the Black Bears in the second quarter, 26-5, and finished shooting better than 60 percent from the field.
Maine (26-9) got 23 points and five rebounds from Sigi Koizar, a junior guard from Austria. The Black Bears had 16 turnovers and shot just 3-of-20 from the 3-point line.
Temple 74, Drexel 66
PHILADELPHIA – Temple used a tight rotation of players, going just seven deep, and held up just fine under fourth-quarter pressure to post a victory against Drexel in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
The Owls (21-11) will play at Quinnipiac in Round 2, with tipoff coming Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. ET. Temple, which won the rebounding battle (41-29) and shot 50 percent from the field, was paced by Alliya Butts, who had 24 points and five assists. Feyonda Fitzgerald came through with 19 points.
Drexel (19-14) got 24 points from Sarah Curran.
Florida Gulf Coast 78, Bethune-Cookman 51
FORT MYERS, FL – Florida Gulf Coast was smart with the ball and employed a major advantage from 3-point range to build a lead against Bethune-Cookman, rolling to a victory in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
The Eagles (29-5) will host Wake Forest in Round 2, with tipoff set for Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. ET. Florida Gulf Coast was paced by Whitney Knight, who closed with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Katie Meador came through with 17 points and five rebounds. Florida Gulf Coast had a modest eight turnovers and shot 15-for-34 from the 3-point line.
Bethune-Cookman (18-13), playing in the program’s first-ever postseason tournament game, got 14 points and seven rebounds from Ashanti Hunt.
Eastern Michigan 74, St. Mary’s 73
MORAGA, CA – Eastern Michigan gained possession of the ball in the final seconds and hit a shot to pull the Eagles past St. Mary’s, 74-73, in Thursday’s late game in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
Eastern Michigan (21-12) will play at TCU in Round 2; tipoff is Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m. CT. The Eagles were led by Cha Sweeney, who had 19 points and seven assists. Janay Morton and Chanise Baldwin each added 16 points.
St. Mary’s (24-8) got 25 points from Devyn Galland; Sydney Raggio added 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Raggio had a shot roll just off the rim as the final horn sounded.
Gonzaga 88, UC Riverside 54
SPOKANE, WA – Gonzaga outscored UC Riverside by 13 points in the third quarter to build plenty of breathing room, coasting to a 88-54 victory in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
Gonzaga (19-13) will play Utah or Montana State in Round 2. The Zags got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Jill Barta; the team shot 56 percent from the field and worked around 18 turnovers, while also enjoying a 44-23 edge in rebounding.
UC Riverside (23-9) got 15 points from Rejane Verin and 13 points from Brittany Crain.
Oregon 84, Long Beach State 76
EUGENE, OR – Oregon was a scorching 14-for-30 from 3-point range, which fueled a 84-76 victory over Long Beach State in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
Oregon (21-10) will play Santa Clara or Fresno State in Round 2. The Ducks were led by Lexi Petersen’s 22 points, as she hit six from long range. Four players each had 13 points, and Oregon was also 14-of-16 from the free-throw line.
Raven Benton closed with 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Long Beach State (24-9).
UTEP 66, Abilene Christian 62
EL PASO, TX – UTEP held off a feisty Abilene Christian team, primarily with defense, and secured a 66-62 win in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
UTEP (27-4) will play at home against Arkansas State in Round 2 (Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. MT). The Miners were led by Starr Breedlove’s 16 points; Tamara Seda came through with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Abilene Christian (26-4) got a huge night from Suzzy Dimba, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds. The Wildcats had a chance to use free throws to pull off the upset, but was just 24-of-37 from the line.
Drake 95, Sacred Heart 59
DES MOINES, IA – Drake overwhelmed Sacred Heart on both sides of the floor in the opening round of the Postseason WNIT, posting a 95-59 victory and moving to a Round 2 assignment against Northern Iowa. That game is at UNI, set for Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m. CT.
Lizzy Wendell had 24 points and five rebounds for Drake (23-9), who had four other players reach double figures in scoring. Drake was a solid 57 percent from the field and forced 21 turnovers.
Sacred Heart got 15 points from Adaysha Williams.
Saint Louis 70, Little Rock 69
ST. LOUIS, MO – In a tight game from start to finish, Saint Louis survived a late scoreless drought to ease past Little Rock, 70-69, in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
Jackie Kempf had 20 points and seven assists for the Billikens (25-7), who will face Ball State in Round 2 – the game is at Saint Louis, Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. CT. Jenny Vliet added 13 points for Saint Louis.
Little Rock (20-13) got 25 pints and 13 rebounds from Shanity James.
TCU 97, UTRGV 73
FORT WORTH, TX – TCU had five players reach double figures in scoring against UT-Rio Grande Valley and broke the game open with a 33-point third quarter in what became a 97-73 victory in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
TCU (17-15) was led by Zahna Medley, who had 21 points, five assists and four rebounds. AJ Alix added 20 points and nine assists, and both Toree Thompson and Veja Hamilton scored 15 points. The Frogs will host St. Mary’s or Eastern Michigan in Round 2; game time is Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m. CT.
UTRGV (19-14) was led by Bernesha Peters, who had 15 points and six rebounds.
Northern Iowa 64, Nebraska 62
LINCOLN, NE – Madison Weekly had a strong game with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists to guide Northern Iowa past Nebraska, 64-62, in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
Northern Iowa (23-10) will host Drake in Round 2 (Saturday, March 19, 7 p.m. CT). UNI also got help from Jen Keitel, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. The Panthers shot 40 3-pointers and hit 12 of them.
The Cornhuskers (18-13) got 20 points and nine rebounds from Natalie Romeo.
Ball State 77, Iowa 72
IOWA CITY, IA – Ball State built a 12-point lead by halftime and held on from there in beating Iowa, 77-72, in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
Ball State (22-9) will play at Saint Louis in Round 2 (Monday, March 21, 7 p.m. CT). The Cardinals got 24 points and 11 rebounds from Nathalie Fontaine; Carmen Grande and Moriah Monaco each scored 16 points.
Iowa (19-14) was led by Megan Gustafson’s 22 points and 12 rebounds.
UT Martin 79, Memphis 73
MEMPHIS, TN – UT Martin responded after scoring just 10 points in the third quarter, scoring 24 points in the final stanza to secure a 79-73 victory against Memphis.
Katie Schubert scored 19 points and added seven rebounds for UT Martin (22-9), who will play at Western Kentucky in Round 2 (Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. CT). Haley Howard added 16 points; the team had just 10 turnovers and shot 52 percent from the field.
Memphis (18-13) was led by Asianna Fuqua-Bey, who closed with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Western Kentucky 89, Dayton 72
BOWLING GREEN, KY – Western Kentucky scored 33 points in the final quarter to pull away from Dayton and register am 89-72 victory in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
Western Kentucky will play UT Martin at home in Round 2 (Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m. CT). The team got 27 points, five rebounds and five assists from Kendall Noble; Kayla Smith added 18 points, and three other players reached double figures.
Dayton (14-15) got 19 points and six assists from Jenna Burdette.
San Diego 69, Northwestern 65
CHICAGO – San Diego withstood a furious rally by Northwestern, with Malina Hood scoring 20 points and adding seven rebounds and three steals, to give the Toreros a 69-65 victory in the opening round of the Postseason WNIT.
San Diego (24-7) will play at IUPUI in Round 2 – tipoff is Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m. ET. Cori Woodward and Sydney Williams each scored 15 points for San Diego, which survived having 22 turnovers.
Northwestern, which scored 35 points in the final stanza, got 23 points from Ashley Deary.
Arkansas State 68, Southern 45
JONESBORO, AR – Arkansas State held Southern to 30 percent shooting and remained in control throughout on the way to a 68-45 win in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
Arkansas State (26-5) will play UTEP or Abilene Christian in Round 2. Arkansas State got 19 points and 12 rebounds from Khadija Brown-Haywood; Aundrea Gamble added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Southern (19-11) was led by Britney Washington, who had 12 points.
Wake Forest 72, Charlotte 69
CHARLOTTE, NC – Wake Forest used a balanced scoring attack to hold off Charlotte, 72-69, in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
The Deacons got 16 points from Amber Campbell and 11 apiece from Ariel Stephenson, Destini Walker and Elisa Penna, and are now 17-15 on the season – they will play either Florida Gulf Coast or Bethune-Cookman in Round 2. Wake Forest shot just 39 percent from the field but had a 45-34 edge in rebounds.
Alexis Alexander scored 21 points to go with eight rebounds for the 49ers (19-12).
Villanova 67, Liberty 51
VILLANOVA, PA – Megan Quinn scored 21 points and added nine rebounds for Villanova, which forced 18 turnovers against Liberty and held the Flames to just five points in the fourth quarter on the way to a 67-51 victory in Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT.
Villanova also got 11 points and six assists from Adrianna Hahn, with Alex Louis adding nine points. Ashley Rininger posted 13 points and eight rebounds for Liberty (20-13). The Wildcats (20-11) hit 13 3-pointers on the night and had only seven turnovers – they will host Hofstra in Round 2; tipoff is Saturday, March 19 at 6 p.m. ET.
Georgia Tech 73, Mercer 56
ATLANTA, GA – Georgia Tech held Mercer to 12 points in the fourth quarter while ringing up 25 points itself to break open a close game, rolling to a 73-56 victory in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
Roddreka Rogers had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets (20-12), who will play at home against Tulane in Round 2 – tipoff is set for Monday, March 21, at 7 p.m. ET. Aaliyah Whiteside warmed up in the latter stages of the game and closed with 17 points and five rebounds. Georgia Tech was just 5-of-21 from 3-point range (24 percent), but had a 50-32 advantage in rebounds.
Kahlia Lawrence had 22 points and six rebounds for Mercer (24-9).
Virginia 52, VCU 50
RICHMOND, VA – Virginia shook off an offensive swoon in the middle quarters and rang up 18 points in the fourth quarter to rally past VCU, 52-50, in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.
Faith Randolph scored 21 points and added five rebounds for the Cavaliers (17-15), who will face Rutgers on the road in Round 2 (Sunday, March 20, 2 p.m. ET). Virginia was 13-of-15 from the free-throw line.
VCU (23-10) had a 40-28 edge in rebounding, but had 20 turnovers and shot just 3-of-15 from 3-point range. Galaisha Goodhope had 12 points to lead the team in scoring.
Rutgers 57, Georgetown 55
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Kahleah Copper hit a basket in the final seconds for Rutgers, giving the Scarlet Knights a 57-55 victory over former Big East foe Georgetown in Round 1 on the Postseason WNIT.
Rachel Hollivay scored 22 points for Rutgers (19-14), who will play Virginia in Round 2 – Rutgers will host, and tipoff is set for Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. ET. Copper closed with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Dorothy Adomake scored 18 points for Georgetown (16-14).
Hofstra 76, Harvard 50
HEMPSTEAD, NY – Hofstra took a 16-point lead against Harvard after one quarter and never looked back in the first round of the WNIT, easing past Harvard by a score of 76-50.
Hofstra (23-8) was paced by Darius Faulk, who closed with 19 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds. Jakelle King-Gilchrist added 18 points and six rebounds. Hofstra will play at Villanova in Round 2; that game is Saturday, March 19 at 6 p.m. ET.
Harvard (14-14) shot just 26 percent from the field; Annmarie Healy led the team with 10 points and four rebounds.
Bucknell 74, Akron 70
AKRON, OH – Bucknell shot 63 percent from the field in the first half against Akron to open a large lead, then held on for dear life as the Bison went on to post a 74-70 victory over the Zips in the first round of the 2016 Postseason WNIT.
Bucknell (25-7) will play at Michigan in Round 2; tipoff is set for Saturday, March 19 at 2 p.m. ET. The Bison got 21 points from Jacquie Klotz and 16 points and five rebounds from Claire Deboer, and managed the win despite coughing up 23 turnovers.
Akron (19-14) was paced by Lilli Brown, who had 18 points and five rebounds.
Ohio 76, Marshall 68
ATHENS, OH – Ohio opened up a 14-point lead after the first quarter and made it stand up for a 76-68 victory against Marshall in the opening round of the Postseason WNIT.
Ohio (25-6) will play Virginia Tech in Round 2; Ohio will host, and tipoff is set for Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. ET. Ohio was paced by Kiyanna Black, who had 32 points and seven rebounds; Kelly Karlis added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Marshall (21-12) got 17 points and six rebounds from Leah Scott. The Herd had 17 turnovers.
Virginia Tech 68, Elon 59
BLACKSBURG, VA – Rachel Camp scored 29 points for Virginia Tech, hitting 10 of her 12 free throw attempts, as the Hokies eased to a 68-59 victory in the opening round of the Postseason WNIT.
Virginia Tech (18-13) will hit the road and play at Ohio in Round 2; tipoff is set for Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. ET. The Hokies also got 12 points and nine rebounds from Sidney Cook.
Elon (18-13) was held to seven points in the second quarter. Leading scorers were Essence Baucom and Malaya Johnson, both with 13 points.
IUPUI 63, Central Michigan 55
MOUNT PLEASANT, MI – Akilah Sims scored 24 points for IUPUI, which scored 41 points in the middle two quarters to move past Central Michigan, 63-55, in the Postseason WNIT.
IUPUI (21-10) will play either Northwestern or San Diego in Round 2. IUPUI also got eight points and eight rebounds from Mikale Rogers. IUPUI only had nine turnovers and made 20 free throws.
Tinara Moore scored 15 points and added nine rebounds for Central Michigan (22-11).
Tulane (22-11) 53, Alabama (15-16) 52
Kolby Morgan scores 19 points as Tulane edges Alabama 53-52 in Round One of the Postseason WNIT. The Green Wave will face the winner of Mercer at Georgia Tech which is set to tip Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.
Tulane led 38-31 heading into the fourth quarter, but Alabama fought its way back with a chance to win the game late. Crimson Tide’s Karyla Middlebrook missed a jumper with six seconds on the clock; a big defensive rebound by Tierra Jones sealed the win for Tulane.
Quantria Bolton scored a team-high 12 points for Alabama coming off the bench. Middlebrooks finished with 11 points hitting all three of her three-point attempts. Hannah Cook also chipped in 11 and pulled down six boards.
Tulane won the game despite struggling from the field hitting 30.9 percent and only 26.3 percent from three-point land. The Green Wave made up for it by forcing 21 Alabama turnovers and hitting 14 of 15 free throw attempts.
Minnesota (20-11) 87, Milwaukee (19-13) 80
MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota’s Rachel Banham scores 48 points to lead the Gophers to an 87-80 win over Milwaukee in Round One of the WNIT. Banham sets a new Postseason WNIT record for most points in a game surpassing Tamika Whitmore of Memphis who scored 45 against Arkansas State 1999.
Minnesota will host South Dakota in Round Two on Sunday, March 20 with tip slated for 3 p.m. ET. South Dakota knocked off Creighton 74-68 tonight.
Three other Gopher players scored in double figures including 14 points from Mikayla Bailey and ten points each from Carlie Wagner and Shayne Mullaney.
Milwaukee’s Steph Kostowicz finished with a team-high 30 points and 11 rebounds. Siera Ford-Washington chipped in 18 points and dished out seven assists.
Milwaukee led the Gophers at halftime 24-23. Minnesota led 82-80 with 1:48 to play in the 4th quarter following a big three by Milwaukee's Bailey. But solid free throw shooting down the stretch by Banham sealed the win for Minnesota.
South Dakota (27-6) 74, Creighton (17-18) 68
VERMILLION – Five players scored in double figures for the South Dakota Coyotes in a 74-68 win over Creighton on the opening night of the Postseason WNIT. South Dakota will travel to Minnesota to face the Gophers in Round Two which is slated for Sunday, March 20 at 3 p.m. ET.
Tia Hemiller scored a team-high 17 points for the Coyotes who are now 13-1 at home this season. Kelly Stewart and Seekamp each added 15 points; Caitlin Duffy and Jasmine Trimboli both chipped in 10.
Creighton led by four after the first quarter and were up three at half. Audrey Faber led the Bluejays with 25 points going 6 of 11 from behind the arc. Sydney Lamberty added 15 points and Mc McGrory finished with 12.
Both teams shot well from three-point land with Creighton hitting 60 percent and South Dakota 45.5 percent. The Coyotes dominated at the free throw line hitting 18 shots on 21 attempts compared to 6 of 9 by the Bluejays.
Michigan (18-13) 81, Wright State (24-11) 53
ANN ARBOR - In the opening game of the 2016 Postseason WNIT, the Michigan women’s basketball squad used a big third quarter outscoring Wright State 23-7 to cruise to an 81-53 win and advance to Round Two of the WNIT. The Wolverines will host the winner of Bucknell at Akron on Saturday, March 19 at 2 p.m. ET.
With the win, Michigan is now 13-5 in home games this season and moves on to the next round for the second consecutive year. In 2015, Michigan advanced to the WNIT semifinals before falling to eventual champion UCLA, 69-65.
Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty led all scorers with 22 points on 10 of 19 shooting from the field including two makes from behind the arc. Siera Thompson had a season-high 19 points to go along with five rebounds and six assists.
Richelle van der Keijl finished with a double-double for Wright State with 19 points and 10 rebounds. She also tallied a game-high four blocks in the loss. Mackenzie Taylor hit four three-pointers to finish with 12 points.
Wright State took an early 19-17 lead as the first quarter buzzer sounded, but Michigan outscored the Raiders 64-34 in the remaining three quarters. Michigan forced 21 Raider turnovers and shot 49.3 percent from the field compared to 31.2 percent by Wright State.
By any measure, the transition game is no sweat for the Abilene Christian women’s basketball team.
In making the move from D-II to D-I, the Wildcats could have been irritated by the process, which mandates a waiting period before becoming eligible to play in even a conference tournament, much less the NCAA show. But the task of fortifying a program for the long haul doesn’t leave room for short-term frustrations, and Abilene Christian is showing signs of being more than ready for the jump.
In 2015-16, the Wildcats posted a 26-3 record and stunned the Southland Conference by going 17-1 to claim the regular-season crown. By taking care of business there, Abilene Christian earned a berth in the 2016 Postseason WNIT, where it will play at UTEP in the first round on Thursday, March 17.
“With the WNIT available as an option, the women’s basketball program has never even talked about the transition. It might be tough for other teams who just have to stop when the season is over,” said Wildcats head coach Julie Goodenough. “But there’s no negative attitude with us. We got it done during the season, and now we get to play on. We’ve focused on what we can do – last summer, we said our goal was to make the WNIT, and I feel that in our program, the transition has been smooth.”
Another critical element in the harmony felt within Abilene Christian is that the entire starting lineup from last season was back for this campaign. While Lizzy Dimba was sidelined by injury a month ago, the four others started all 29 games and each averaged better than 10 points per contest.
“It’s been a huge key, the consistency we’ve had. They are very in sync on the floor, and it’s been great seeing that group come back more mature,” Goodenough said. “They play a ton of minutes, and there’s not a lot of scoring available for (the bench). But those players, they know how to come in and make big plays. They gets us a rebound when we need it, take a charge, get an assist – they make things happen.”
ACU starters Suzzy Dimba, Alexis Mason, Sydney Shelstead and Whitney West Swinford all surpassed 1,000-career points within two months of each other. Swinford – a senior – eclipsed that milestone Jan. 2, while Mason – a junior – reached that total on Jan. 23 at Incarnate Word. Junior forwards Dimba and Shelstead scored their 1,000th points during the final week of the regular season against Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, respectively.
"It was cool to be part of this team and win the (D-II) Lone Star Conference championship and be named freshman of the year, and finish my senior year with the Southland Conference championship. It was great being on such a close team, and to have my best season as a senior in only our third year of playing D-I basketball,” said Swinford, who credits an overtime win in December at Idaho with fully invigorating the squad. “I felt (that) was really a turning point for all of us. It was after that overtime win we knew we were really good and that we could win the Southland Conference championship. It was not just going to be a dream. We believed in ourselves and were going to make it a reality. We really got rolling and hit our groove during and after that game."
Mason was named Southland’s player of the year after averaging 17.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, and Goodenough signed a contract extension that takes her through the 2019-2020 season. Hitting the road to take on UTEP is daunting (the Miners were in the Postseason WNIT final in 2014), but there’s nothing but enthusiasm on the Wildcats’ roster.
“It’s been incredible. We had a ‘watch party’ and were just so excited and ready for the bracket to be revealed,” Goodenough added. “There’s a lot of excitement around the program, and I’m just thankful – it’s a blessing to be in the postseason.”
The Postseason WNIT continues to draw interest from all corners of the college basketball scene – 64 teams getting the chance to continue their season creates a lot of excitement within rosters, coaching staffs and groups of fans. Here are some details to help explain how the event is bracketed:
Q: Why aren’t teams seeded?
A: The WNIT field is selected after the NCAA tournament first confirms the 64 teams playing in that event. The WNIT uses a broad range of rankings systems and also considers factors like how a team is currently playing and injury concerns. In the end, 32 spots go to automatic qualifiers (teams with the highest regular-season finish in their conference that are not playing in the NCAA Tournament), with the other berths going, as determined by the WNIT selection committee, to the strongest remaining teams.
The 64 teams in the WNIT are then placed in tiers, and those tiers are used to construct the brackets. In general, first-round games will have middle-tier teams facing each other, while top- tier teams face bottom-tier teams. Adjustments are commonly made, however, to make sure there are no rematches from the regular season, and that teams from the same conference do not play each other in Round 1, and ideally, Round 2. The big-picture goal is to evenly distribute team strength throughout the bracket.
Other factors affecting the brackets are school days being missed, facility access, locations of teams, travel and lodging constraints, availability to host, and other issues. With all the variables teams must navigate, the WNIT has found no real point in generating a seeding for each team, because it often does not hold true with all of the factors that can affect the bracket.
Q: Why is my team not playing a home game in Round 1? We have a better record!
A: The WNIT is almost 100 percent of the time a “breaking news” development for college programs, which means access to the school’s arena may be limited. There could be other events already booked; the men’s NCAA Tournament may also complicate access. WNIT officials also have to consider the fan base of each potential host school, and the ability for visiting teams to get to the site in timely fashion. Keep in mind that some schools simply can’t or won’t devote resources needed to properly host a postseason contest. One of the WNIT’s goals is to help teams build their programs with their community, and WNIT games can be a great vehicle for getting a new fan base engaged in women’s college basketball.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Enlow
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Women’s National Invitation Tournament Selection Committee is excited to announce the 64-team field for the 2016 Postseason WNIT. In the 19th year of the tournament, the committee has selected a competitive field which includes 36 teams with 20 or more victories.
First-round action tips off Wednesday, March 16 and concludes Friday, March 18. Second-round games will run March 19-22, Round three goes March 23-25, quarterfinals are March 26-28, and semifinals will be played March 30-31. The championship game will be played Saturday, April 2 and will be televised live and in HD on CBS Sports Network at 3 p.m. ET. All games are hosted by participating schools.
This year’s tournament features six teams from the Big Ten, five from the Mid-American Conference and four each from the ACC, C-USA and West Coast Conference. Four conferences each placed three teams – American, A-10, Big East and Colonial. Other conferences represented include Big West (2), Horizon (2), Missouri Valley (2), Pac-12 (2), Summit (2), Sun Belt (2), America East (1), Atlantic Sun (1), Big 12 (1), Big Sky (1), Big South (1), Ivy (1), MAAC (1), MEAC (1), Mountain West (1), Northeast (1), OVC (1), Patriot (1), SEC (1), Southern (1), Southland (1), SWAC (1) and WAC (1).
There are 18 teams that either won or tied for their conference title in the 2016 field.
“Everything from impressive athletic ability to high-caliber coaching to devoted, enthusiastic fans continues to drive the progress of Division-I women’s basketball,” said WNIT Director Renee Carlson. “The Postseason WNIT will again display dozens of teams motivated to perform their best, while setting that tone of determination for 2016-17.”
Tournament officials award an Automatic Qualifying berth to each of the nation’s 32 conferences. The spot goes to the team that finishes the highest in the regular-season conference standings that does not advance to the NCAA Tournament. If there is a tie, the WNIT abides by the conference tiebreaker. A team earns the AQ berth regardless of its overall record. A total of 32 teams are then given an At-Large berth; a team must have an overall record of .500 or better to be considered.
The Postseason WNIT is owned and produced by Triple Crown Sports, based in Fort Collins, Colo. TCS also organizes men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments in Cancun, and the Preseason WNIT. TCS is the leader in youth and collegiate sports and manages more than 100 amateur sporting events across the country in volleyball, fastpitch softball, baseball and basketball. With 33 years of experience in the event business, TCS is nationally-recognized as a premier tournament organization.
The official WNIT bracket, which will include matchups and dates, will be announced later tonight, approximately 11:30 p.m. ET. Game times will be announced by officials on Tuesday, March 15. For complete information on the tournament, please visit www.womensnit.com
Abilene Christian (26-3), Southland
Arkansas State (26-5), Sun Belt
Bethune-Cookman (18-12), MEAC
Bucknell (24-7), Patriot
Drexel (19-13), Colonial
Florida Gulf Coast (28-5), Atlantic Sun
Fresno State (21-11), MWC
Harvard (14-13), Ivy
Liberty (20-12), Big South
Maine (26-8, America East
Mercer (24-8), Southern
Milwaukee (19-12), Horizon
Minnesota (19-11), Big Ten
Montana State (21-9), Big Sky
Northern Iowa (22-10), Missouri Valley
Ohio (24-6), Mid-American
Oregon (20-10), Pac-12
Quinnipiac (24-8), MAAC
Sacred Heart (20-12), Northeast
Saint Louis (24-7), Atlantic 10
Saint Mary’s (24-7), WCC
South Dakota (26-6), Summit
Southern (19-11), SWAC
TCU (16-14), Big 12
Temple (20-11), American
UC Riverside (23-8), Big West
UT Martin (21-9), Ohio Valley
UTEP (26-4), C-USA
UT Rio Grande Valley (19-13), WAC
Villanova (19-11), Big East
Akron (19-13), Mid-American
Alabama (15-15), SEC
Ball State (21-9), Mid-American
Central Michigan (22-10), Mid-American
Charlotte (19-11), C-USA
Creighton (17-17), Big East
Dayton (14-14), Atlantic 10
Drake (22-9), Missouri Valley
Eastern Michigan (21-11), Mid-American
Elon (18-12), Colonial
Georgetown (16-13), Big East
Georgia Tech (19-12), ACC
Gonzaga (18-13), West Coast
Hofstra (22-8), Colonial
Iowa (19-13), Big Ten
IUPUI (20-10), Summit
Little Rock (20-12), Sun Belt
Long Beach State (24-8), Big West
Marshall (21-11), C-USA
Memphis (18-12), American
Michigan (17-13), Big Ten
Nebraska (18-12), Big Ten
Northwestern (18-16), Big Ten
Rutgers (18-14), Big Ten
San Diego (23-7), West Coast
Santa Clara (23-8), West Coast
Tulane (21-11), American
Utah (16-14), Pac-12
VCU (23-9), Atlantic 10
Virginia (16-15), ACC
Virginia Tech (17-13), ACC
Wake Forest (16-15), ACC
Western Kentucky (24-6), C-USA
Wright State (24-10), Horizon
Wednesday, March 16
Wright State at Michigan, 7 pm ET
Milwaukee at Minnesota, 8 pm ET
Creighton at South Dakota, 8 pm ET
Alabama at Tulane, 8 pm ET
Thursday, March 17
IUPUI at Central Michigan, 7 pm ET
Bucknell at Akron, 7 pm ET
Marshall at Ohio, 7 pm ET
Elon at Virginia Tech, 7 pm ET
Liberty at Villanova, 7 pm ET
Harvard at Hofstra, 7 pm ET
Georgetown at Rutgers, 7 pm ET
Virginia at VCU, 7 pm ET
Mercer at Georgia Tech, 7 pm ET
Wake Forest at Charlotte, 7 pm ET
UTRGV at TCU, 8 pm ET
Southern at Arkansas State, 8 pm ET
Sacred Heart at Drake, 8 pm ET
Northern Iowa at Nebraska, 8 pm ET
Ball State at Iowa, 8 pm ET
Little Rock at Saint Louis, 8 pm ET
UT Martin at Memphis, 8 pm ET
Dayton at Western Kentucky, 8 pm ET
San Diego at Northwestern, 8 pm ET
UC Riverside at Gonzaga, 9 pm ET
Long Beach State at Oregon, 9 pm ET
Abilene Christian at UTEP, 9:05 pm ET
Eastern Michigan at St. Mary’s, 10 pm ET
Friday, March 18
Maine at Quinnipiac, 7 pm ET
Temple at Drexel, 7 pm ET
Bethune-Cookman at FGCU, 7:05 pm ET
Montana State at Utah, 9 pm ET
Santa Clara at Fresno State, 10 pm ET
Photo by Mitchell Leff
If Lisa Stone felt she had an artistic touch when it came to building a basketball team, she certainly confronted a blank canvas when she took over at Saint Louis University.
Stone, who had worked the sidelines for 25 seasons before coming to SLU in 2012-13, didn’t need much time to see how the Billikens were a missed opportunity, something just begging to blossom. Sure, there were some bleak stretches that could dampen enthusiasm (the team was 26-161, a .139 winning percentage, for the first seven seasons in the 1990s), but Stone couldn’t help notice the positive qualities of her new job.
In terms of recruiting, Stone’s ability to highlight SLU’s charms was authentic from the start, given the fact her son is a student there. From a basketball standpoint, all the pieces seemed ready to assemble – enthusiastic tones from the administration, an attractive arena, and a campus environment designed to attract bright, high-achieving people.
The breakthrough came with a vengeance this season – the Billikens set school records for overall victories, Atlantic-10 wins and road victories in going 24-7 overall. As it stands, several days before the NCAA and WNIT brackets are determined, Saint Louis will participate in one of those events, giving the program its second-ever look at a postseason tournament (the Billikens were one-and-done in the 2003 WNIT).
“With all of these resources, everything’s been in place. I wanted to do something that’s never been done, and that was my vision,” Stone said. “Yes, it’s a culture change and yes, it’s a belief system, and you recruit great players, all looking to take a chance on a program that’s never been there. That’s how we’ve done it.
“It’s not about me moving mountains; we take it step by step. Recruiting has improved every year – players (like starting sophomore guards Jackie Kemph and Jenny Vliet) who were recruited by other high-level programs came here, and we sold them on Saint Louis like it was sold to me – we’ll do something that’s never been done. It’s happening, it’s just awesome. We’ve accomplished the goal of (moving on) – if it’s the WNIT we’re playing in, we’re thrilled, because the goal was getting to the postseason.”
Stone was named Atlantic-10 coach of the year after the Billikens shocked observers by tying for the league crown at 13-3. Kemph averaged 16.4 points and seven assists per game on the way to earning co-player of the year honors for the A-10; the team was blessed with continuity as five players all had 31 starts.
That steadiness helped, as Stone has had to deal with a rotation of assistant coaches over the years, many of whom have taken jobs at other D-1 programs. Much tougher was changing out the mindset of the roster.
“People were happy if they played well and the team lost. Now, if our best player has a sub-par game but we win, they are thrilled for the success of all players,” Stone added. “That’s hard in today’s society, but that’s how we are building. What we did this year is the stepping stone for the future. If you think it’s about you, you’re in the wrong place, and that’s an easier (tone) to carry, now that (we’ve) had some success.”
Saint Louis holds its opponents to less than 38 percent shooting from the field, which is an obvious key in the program’s ascent. Another factor is a stubborn insistence on moving the ball crisply but carefully. The Billikens are one of the rare teams that take layups super seriously, and have a very appealing assist-to-turnover ratio. Stone (a former point guard) never gets tired of that topic.
“We hang our hat on defense; that’s our identity. We have a system that’s maybe old school, but it works,” she said. “We defend, rebound and try to take care of the ball. It’s not a difficult defense to teach, but it’s a hard one to play, because it takes a lot of work.
“We have one of the best point guards in the country in Jackie Kemph, and I’m a fundamentalist. Pass, catch, move. Our margin of error is small, so we have to give ourselves chances and try not to beat ourselves. Women’s basketball gets a bad rap because there are so many turnovers, fouls and play stoppages, where you don’t see the purity of fundamentals. We look for good shots every possession, and for me, you have to be able to shoot the ball.”
From what was essentially a standing start, the Billikens are jumping into the conversation as a team on the rise.
“We’re getting better,” Stone added. “We don’t lead the nation in anything; we’re a really good basketball team that plays well together, defends, and is team-first.”
For thousands of students, attending Santa Clara University is a chance to prepare for their future in a heavenly setting.
But the scene has been a bit dark and gloomy for the women’s basketball program in many respects over the past decade, since the Broncos last made a postseason tournament appearance. During that swirl of struggle, there were three seasons of at least 20 losses and just one finish above the .500 mark. Beautiful sunsets aside, the hoops atmosphere simply had a dull, numbing feel.
Under second-year coach JR Payne, however, Santa Clara has turned around a going-nowhere mindset and will break a 10-year stretch of missing the postseason this March after compiling a 23-8 record. That’s 12 victories better than her first year with the Broncos, and it fulfills Payne’s vision of building a team that is restless for achievement.
“The biggest thing really is dealing with the old culture; it wasn’t bad, but it was OK with mediocrity and low expectations,” said Payne, who ran the successful women’s program at Southern Utah for five seasons before coming to Santa Clara. “Teams would lose in the first or second round of the (West Coast Conference) tournament and ask, ‘Hey, where are we going for Spring Break?’ Kids came here and loved it, but they had other priorities. We wanted to bring in kids who could do well academically, but who wanted to be in the gym. They’ve helped us turn the culture.”
It’s not like the Broncos flipped the script this season with a seasoned group of veterans. Injuries have slowly whittled down the number of players who can even put on the uniform, and there have been some consistency questions as the weeks go by.
Safe to say, Santa Clara’s roster will want to sleep in a bit when the games finally come to an end, but no one’s complaining that the season is lasting a bit longer this time around.
“The biggest thing is how everyone has bought into how we want to play. We don’t always shoot it well, and other teams are bigger than us, but we try to be the toughest team on the floor every night,” Payne said. “We’re down to eight players, and one of them is a walk-on – that’s been the situation for much of the season, and the players have shown up with a backs-against-the-wall mentality. Way back at the start of the year, they said finishing top three in the conference was their goal, and I thought, ‘You all are out of your minds. Don’t you see how young we are?’ But the kids were willing to fight for it.”
The Broncos fulfilled their prediction, tying for third at 13-5 in the WCC. The 2015-16 campaign got off to a gnarly start as Santa Clara lost at Washington by 45 points and, two days later, fell by 35 points at USC. But on Nov. 23, Payne’s crew went into Stanford and beat the top-10 Cardinal, 61-58, for the first Santa Clara win at Palo Alto since 1984.
Juniors Lori Parkinson (who followed Payne from Southern Utah) and Marie Bertholdt have kept the Broncos relevant all year, both earning first-team all-WCC honors and averaging about 13 points and seven rebounds per game. Santa Clara has been able to keep posting victories despite a few obvious hiccups in the stats, such as turnovers and 3-point shooting.
“I’m more than familiar with some of those numbers … we knew it would be a tough start, and it showed in the scorebook. Those two juniors, however, are good leaders and the hardest working players in practice, both very vocal,” Payne added. “Parkinson was strictly a post player at first; she took last year off with the redshirt and expanded her game, and now she plays on the perimeter.
“Rebounding has kept us in games; we’ll get offensive boards because we miss a lot of shots, but the kids fly to the glass hard. Defensively, we’re pretty good, led the nation for half a year in steals, and our defense has been something that’s created offense for us.”
So even as the Broncos work through a little late frustration – Payne said her team is a little chapped that San Francisco, which lost to the Broncos twice this year, managed to beat BYU for the WCC tourney title – spirits are high about playing in the postseason.
“We’re excited about the WNIT and look forward to seeing who we’ll play,” Payne said.
The Postseason WNIT Selection Committee continues to prepare for the 19th annual Postseason WNIT, and will announce the 64-team bracket on Monday, March 14 via the website.
The committee will release the 64 WNIT participants shortly after the NCAA Tournament finalizes its bracket the evening of the 14th. A second release will follow before midnight ET, with a full WNIT bracket and matchups.
Teams that have been contacted and are in contention for WNIT berths will be emailed that evening upon the release of each announcement on the website. Leading up to Selection Day, teams that have earned an Automatic Qualifying berth in the WNIT will be posted in real-time updates on the website. The WNIT gives one Automatic Qualifying spot to each of the nation’s 32 conferences, and also invites 32 at-large teams.
Round 1 of the Postseason WNIT is March 16-18. The tournament is single elimination, with all games played at host participating schools. The championship game is televised live on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, April 2, at 3 p.m. ET.